When talking about joy, it is important to mention that it is different from happiness. A person could be happy but lack joy. Why? Because joy is not an emotion, it is not a short-lived feeling as happiness is. For instance, if a person is depressed, he lacks joy but getting that job he had waited a long time for would make him happy at that moment. On that note, happiness is situation-dependent but joy is independent of the current circumstance. Today, we’d discuss the essence of joy.
Have you ever been having a bad day and someone smiled at you and then you feel the iciness of that day melt away? That’s exactly what joy does. In terrible situations, the more we choose to wallow in the gloominess of the circumstance, the more we are likely to remain frozen in that situation. Just as a simple smile can change your bad day to a good one, choosing joy can turn around that bad situation to a positive one.
I’m sure you’ve heard this time and again but I will repeat it once more. “…The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). For we who believe in the Lord, we draw our strength from His joy. The situations around us may predict weakness but God says my joy is your strength. If you ever feel yourself caving under the pressure of the things happening around you, then remember that God’s joy is your strength. Be strengthened by His joy. Remaining in sadness or sorrow will only weaken you more and more. John 16:22 tells us that no one can take our joy away from us. That is, this joy of God is not only our strength, but it is also immovable. Depending on joy in the most unlikely situations will keep you grounded and strong till the storm is passed.
Joy as I said, is independent of the current circumstance. So, all hell could be breaking lose but you are calm and steady because you are dependent on God’s joy, and this is an expression of our faith in God. That we remain smiling and gladdened from within even in the worst of times, shows God how much we trust and rely on Him. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating “suffering and smiling”. I am saying that patiently waiting on God with an expectant and joyful heart shows God the level at which we trust Him. Imagine your child asking that you buy her something and you tell her you will, but she keeps being moody and worried and sad about that thing, would it not be discouraging to know that she does not believe you will get it for her? Your joy in every circumstance (good or bad) shows God how much faith you have in Him.
Our joy, as Christians, ministers to people. When people notice you to always be in a state of ecstasy regardless of the situation at hand, they would like to know your source. If you do it right and tell them it’s Jesus, you may have potentially set someone on the right path to salvation. Let it not be said among us that that brother or sister that is fond of Christ is always the gloomiest looking person in the room.
We are called to live a life of joy because it represents God. Galatians 5:22-23 lists out the fruit of the Spirit and joy happens to be second on that list. This implies that part of the nature of God is joy. Even when Jesus lived on earth, we never read it in the bible that Jesus went about spreading sorrow by His words or countenance. To those whose situation was saddening enough, He brought them joy. Even when He was born to earth, the angels announced His birth as news of great joy (Luke 2:10-11). As representatives of God here on earth and custodians of the gospel (the good news; ordinarily, good news should bring joy), we ought to replicate this nature of God. We should dare to be the light in the darkness, dare to be the joy in the midst of sorrow…not just for ourselves but for the sake of others. In the presence of God, there is fullness of joy and we also learn from the bible that we now carry the presence of God inside of us (John 14: 15-17). What exactly is preventing you from manifesting that joy? If you want to know whether you are truly manifesting God’s presence in your life through the Holy Spirit, you have to be able to show forth the fruit of the Spirit, of which one of them is joy.
Real joy, I mean the one that is not short-lived or easily extinguished or faked or forced, comes from God. It can only be found in Jesus Christ. Accept Jesus today and receive salvation from all your pains, depression and agony (Matthew 11:28-30). Peradventure you are already in Christ, keep telling yourself that you choose the joy of the Lord. It’s yours already, all you have to do is claim it.